Flour Child Bakery opens in Virginia Beach!

My mom and I just opened a bakery in Virginia Beach!! "Like" us to stay updated! If you care to read our blog, it's flourchildbakery.blogspot.com.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Birthday Cake Suggestions & a Job Interview!

My 22nd birthday is August 8, and once again I'm going to make my own cake. I'm having a hard time choosing which kind though. I'm pretty sure I want to use a Dorie Greenspan recipe because I just got Baking From My Home to Yours, and I'm in love with it. I made her Perfect Party Cake for a Daring Bakers challenge a few months ago, and it was freakin awesome! So basically, the point of this post is to get suggestions for a good layer cake by Dorie (or any recipe you think will knock me off my feet). I'm down with anything... chocolate, vanilla, orange, pineapple, raspberry, coconut, caramel... seriously anything. However, I don't typically enjoy traditional American buttercream (butter, confectioners sugar, milk). So anything but that is perfectly acceptable.

ALSO! I have a job interview tomorrow at a bakery in Chesapeake called LaChoclatier Bakery. They specialize in custom cakes and wedding cakes, but they also do cheesecakes and other pastries (possibly cupcakes?). I applied for a retail sales position. I know retail. I OWN retail. ESPECIALLY when it comes to selling food. I've had to sell food for 13 hours straight, in a dust-covered field, in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. And I've done it all with a smile on my face. In addition, I like to believe that my newfound knowledge of baking is enough to get at least an entry level bakery job. Right? Ohh... wish me luck. I'm already nervous.
UPDATE: Guess who got the job? I go in for training Monday @ 7am! And because they saw my blog, they want me to work in the kitchen as well! This is such a dream come true. :) :) :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lollipop Tree® Blondie Mix w/ Belgian Chocolate

Before Stephanie left, I want the two of us to bake one last thing together. We were originally going to make cookies, but I couldn't think of anything except the same old boring cookies like chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin. Thank goodness I have a "pantry" (AKA cardboard box full of groceries that I don't want my parents or brother getting into) in my room overflowing with various mixes from TJ Maxx and other places of the sort. We decided to make these blondies because they would be easy to pack in a container to take with us on the 4.5 hour roadtrip back to her house. They tasted really delicious, but making them was slightly confusing. The only 2 ingredients mentioned in the instructions were 9 tablespoons of butter and 1 egg. When we mixed it all together, it was as stiff as cookie dough (I thought it was strange that the alternate instructions for "Chocolate Chip Cookies" were exactly the same, except for forming the dough into balls and baking on a cookie sheet). There was no way this stuff was going to magically transform into a blondie in the oven... a giant square cookie maybe, but definitely not a blondie! We starting adding water 1 tablespoon at a time until it looked like normal brownie batter (9 tablespoons total). We also added some chopped walnuts because we're awesome like that. Then we baked it according to the directions. The final result was a deliciously moist, cake-like brownie. They tasted so good that my mind totally wandered away from the fact that I was blogging them, and I didn't even get a picture of the finished product. Just take my word for it that they looked and tasted fabulous. I totally recommend this mix if you're into spending $3.99 for an 8x8 pan of brownies!
See? You are all witnesses that there is no mention of adding liquid!Stephanie chopped some toasted walnuts. Then I cut the butter into the mix.One egg is added.Aaaannnndddd... you end up with a bowl of cookie dough!Until you add 9 tablespoons of water!
And that's where the pictures stop. But you get the point. Now go shopping!

Billy's Vanilla Cupcakes... Again!

My cousin Stephanie L. (the one from North Carolina) stayed at my house for the past 2 weeks. She is the most fabulous person on this earth. She's always fun to be around, and she's a great partner in the kitchen. She's funny and she loves to do dishes! Last weekend she went home. I've been pretty sad, because now I'm back to my normal life of having nothing to do until Josh gets home from work around 7. I was really uninspired to make cupcakes Tuesday. I almost used a box of plain yellow cake mix, but we didn't have any. So I settled on Billy's Vanilla Cupcakes. I've made them a few times, and I really like the recipe. The flavor is fabulous. But they always come out a tiny bit dry. I check them a few times near the end of the baking time, and I take them out as soon as a toothpick comes out dry (duh, I know how to bake). But they're always slightly dry and crumbly. Does anyone else have that problem with this recipe? The cake flour is probably the reason behind the fine crumbs. And I know cakes made with butter instead of oil are usually a little less moist. If you get a big mouthful of cake and frosting, you can't tell, but I always like to taste-test the cake by itself to form a fair opinion. Anyways, maybe I'm just weird. Here are some photos and the recipe (for like the 3rd time). The frosting is "Special Vanilla Buttercream." You can find the recipe in the drop-down menu on the left side of the page.
IngredientsCombine all the dry ingredients (including sugar) in the mixing bowl.Add softened butter 1 piece at a time.Add liquid ingredients in three parts.Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl often.Fill cupcake pans and bake.This is a familiar sight in the laundry room every Tuesday! =]Mmm... cooling and smelling so tasty!Topped with vanilla frosting. Delish!Inside!
Recipe from marthastewart.com

MY NOTES: I reduced the sugar to 1 1/2 cups, and they were still plenty sweet. I got 23 cupcakes. Don't forget to rotate the pans halfway through. Mine baked for 18 minutes.

Billy's Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes 24-ish (I got 23, Martha's site says it makes 30, hmm?)

1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar (I used 1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoons
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour (Make sure the butter pieces are no larger than a peanut).
In a large measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl with each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat (I finished mixing with a rubber spatula after the last addition of wet ingredients).
Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. (I topped mine with Special Vanilla Buttercream. You can find the recipe in the drop-down menu on the left side of the page.)

Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 4
Tenderness: 4
Frosting: 4

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes

I let Stephanie choose the 3 cupcake flavors in last week's poll. Of course, she chose all chocolate so there was NO WAY she could lose! Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes were the winner with 43% of the votes. I think we're gonna change the name of these to Brownie Batter Cupcakes. Because that's exactly what the frosting tastes like! There is nothing "moussey" about it. It's thick and sticky and fudgy just like brownie batter. If you ask me, that's not a bad thing. However, I was expecting the topping to be light and fluffy. I dunno how light it could be though with 6 egg yolks in it. But the cupcakes are delicious no matter what. The cake is very soft, moist, and chocolatey (chocolat-y? How do you spell that?). The frosting is smooth, rich and extremely chocolatey as well. These cupcakes are made for chocolate lovers!
IngredientsMelting butter and chocolate in a double boiler.The melted chocolate mixture cooling.Ready to fold egg whites into the stiff chocolate batter.Almost done!The "chocolate mousse" divided in half,
and flour being mixed in to make the cupcake batter.Dividing batter the only way I know how!
(If you don't use an ice cream scoop, get one.)Cooling, and you can see I did such a great job dividing the batter...The recipe said take them out when the are just cooked and the middle is still moist.
I guess they were a bit too moist because they sunk (sank?).I used a cookie scoop to divide the batter.
It made exactly 11 perfect scoops for my 11 cupcakes!
(Only 11 because one was destroyed when I was removing them from the pan... and it was delicious)The final product. You can see how fudgy the frosting looks!
They're really good even when they're cold!
Here's the recipe from Cupcakes Galore by Gail Wagman.

MY NOTES: I used 5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate and 5 oz. extra dark chocolate. I took mine out after 13 minutes (because usually my cupcakes are ALWAYS done before the time on the recipe), and they sank. Leave them in for at least 15 minutes!

Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes (AKA Brownie Batter Cupcakes!)
Makes 12 cupcakes

4 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus good pinch for the egg whites
10 ounces dark chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
Grated chocolate for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or microwave. Don't cook -- the chocolate and butter should be just melted (Take the bowl off the heat before the chocolate is completely melted. Keep stirring until it's smooth). Stir and set aside.
4. Beat egg yolks and sugar until light yellow and foamy, about 1 minute on high. Beat in the melted chocolate until totally blended.
5. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. Gently fold into chocolate mixture (Fold in 1/3 at a time, being extra gentle with the 2nd and 3rd addition). Divide mixture into two parts and put one of them in the refrigerator to be used later to frost cupcakes. Gently whisk flour mixture into other half until it is completely absorbed (I folded it in with a rubber spatula).
6. Fill cupcake papers about 2/3 full with batter and bake for 15-20 minutes. Don't overcook. Cupcakes should be just cooked and moist in the center (This freaked me out, and I ended up taking them out too early. Leave them in for at least 15 minutes so yours don't sink like mine). Remove from oven and cool.
7. When cupcakes are cool, frost with remaining chocolate mousse. Decorate with grated chocolate.

Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 5
Tenderness: 5
Frosting: 5

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Some say I'm the "Queen of TJ Maxx!"

And those people are CORRECT! Stephanie L. (AKA Boof) and I went to TJ Maxx and Marshall's today, and I went crazy on the food aisle... as usual. I already had most of the Lollipop Tree mixes they had. But I found Blondie Mix and Blueberry Tangerine Bread Mix. Then I found more cupcake mix! It was expensive, but I'm such a sucker for anything with the word 'cupcake' on it.

I'm going to make a drop-down menu for product reviews, but I can't figure out a way to make them fit. When I type "Lollipop Tree Banana Chocolate Chip Monkey Bread Mix," the menu extends all the way into the entries and the arrow disappears. If anyone knows how to set the width and wordwrap for a drop-down menu with links, that would be awesome!

Blackberry Frozen Yogurt

We've had a blackberry bush in my front yard for as long as I can remember. I've never been interested in it until this year, as a result of the culinary lightbulb in my brain flicking on. I picked about 3 cups altogether over the span of about 5 days. I macerated them in sugar and lemon juice so they wouldn't start rotting before I figured out what to do with them. Then one day while shopping at the grocery store I noticed the plain yogurt on the dairy aisle. BINGO! I decided to use the berries in frozen yogurt. I couldn't find a recipe, so I just made one up. It tasted so fantastic! It was bright and fruity like sorbet, and creamy like ice cream, but with a tang from the yogurt. You can probably use this same recipe with raspberries, strawberries, or any juicy fruit. It's perfect for summertime!
It looked like some sort of massacre had occured in my food processor!
Doesn't it look freakin good?
Here's the recipe courtesy of muah:

Blackberry Fro-Yo!
3 cups fresh blackberries (I’m guessing that’s how much I collected over about a week of going outside and picking berries from my yard, but I never measured.)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups plain yogurt (or vanilla yogurt & leave out the extract)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a food processor, combine blackberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Pulse a few times until smooth (seeds will still be whole). Strain over a large mixing bowl and discard seeds. You should get about 1 cup of juice. Stir in yogurt and vanilla. If berries were slightly sour, add more sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until desired sweetness. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Transfer into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.


I got the idea from I Heart Cuppycakes! Go to wordle.net, type in some words OR you blog's URL, and tada... Awesomeness! It generates a word cloud using the most common words on your blog. Click it to see the full-size image.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Salted Caramel Cupcakes... FINALLY!!

Geez Louise! I know it took me forever to make these. They won the poll a loooong time ago, but I've been slacking. Wait a second, that's not true. I wasn't slacking at all. I've been cooking and baking a lot! Just not what I was supposed to be making... Well anyway, here they are, and my bestest cousin in the whole world Stephanie AKA "Boof" helped me make them! The caramel wouldn't "swirl" into the buttercream nicely as it was pictured in the book. I ended up just blending it all the way in and drizzling some on top. And I think I was the only one brave enough to try one with salt. I sprinkled mine (the one in the picture) with some kosher salt. The salt was a delicious addition. It gave it that yummy salty-sweet thing that make chocolate-covered pretzels one of my favorite things in the entire universe. The recipe made 12 and 10 got eaten last night! That's the most that's ever been eaten during Wing Night! One thing though, I think these taste just like the Creme Brulee Cupcakes I made before. Pretty much the same idea... brown sugar cake with caramel buttercream. But the texture was so awesome. Slightly dense, soft, sweet, and moist. This recipe is perfect!

Ingredients That's me putting batter in the pan,
and that's our lunch, pizza bites, in the background!
A full scoop in each... They're ready to be baked!
Melting the sugar for the caramel
Still melting...
That's us waiting for it to melt...
Finally, it melted and we added cream.
Our finished product!
Inside shot! You can see how moist and slightly dense it was!

Recipe from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski.

MY NOTES: My cupcakes were done at 18 minutes. I reduced the butter in the frosting to 1 1/2 sticks (my usual amount for SMBC with only 3 egg whites). I only used 1/2 of caramel in the frosting.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk


Caramel Drizzle
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Pinch salt

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temperature (I only used 1 1/2 sticks butter)

For the cupcakes:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the sugars and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20-22 minutes (Mine were done at 18 minutes). Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

For the frosting:
In a heavy-bottomed, high-sided saucepan, cook the sugar over medium-high heat until it begins to melt around the edges, about 5 minutes. Stirring with a clean wooden spoon, continue to cook until the sugar is melted and has turned golden amber, about 3 minutes longer.

Carefully pour the cream down the side of the pan in a slow, steady stream (it will bubble and spatter), stirring constantly until completely smooth. Stir in the salt. Pour the caramel into a small heatproof bowl and let cool completely before using. (The caramel can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week; bring to room temperature before using.)

In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160°F on an instant-read thermometer), about 2 minutes (It always takes about 5 minutes for me). Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature, and holds stiff peaks (the mixture should not look dry), about 6 minutes.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the salt and the butter, a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter is added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes more. Add the caramel drizzle (I only added about 1/2 cup) and beat until combined (or almost combined for a swirling effect), scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream. (The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before finishing.) Top each cupcake with a caramel candy, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt, and serve.

Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 5
Tenderness: 5
Frosting: 5